The Texas College and University System Coordinating Board was established by the Fifty-ninth Texas Legislature in 1965 to provide unified planning and development of a comprehensive system of higher education. In 1987 the name was changed to Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Under provisions of the Higher Education Coordinating Act of 1965, the board was founded as the state's highest authority for issues of public higher education; it was made responsible for coordinating all state-supported colleges and universities in Texas. The board provides statewide leadership in achieving excellence in college education through efficient and effective use of resources and the elimination of unnecessary duplication in program offerings, faculties, and campus facilities. Eighteen members, appointed by the governor and approved by the Texas Senate, serve on the board for six-year overlapping terms of office. To qualify for board service, no member may be professionally employed in education or serving on the board of a junior college. Members serve without pay and are appointed from various geographical sections of the state. The governor designates the chairman and vice chairman of the board. Meetings are held quarterly in Austin and at other times on the call of the chairman.
The board has general and specific authority in areas of academic programs, finance, and facilities and has been designated the administrator at the state level for federal educational programs. Its responsibilities for coordination encompass public universities, community colleges, technical institutes, medical and dental schools, and other allied health units. Resources of the state's private colleges and universities also are considered by the board in its coordination efforts. Among the board's specific responsibilities are the development of formulas for equitable financing of institutions of higher education, the review of requests for degree programs, the authorization of elections to establish public community college districts, and the review of proposals for campus construction. The board also administers a number of student financial aid programs, including the Hinson-Hazlewood College Student Loan Program. The board appoints the commissioner of higher education as chief executive officer of its staff, which by 1988 was organized into nine divisions: financial planning, universities and health affairs, campus planning, research programs, community colleges and technical institutes, student services, educational opportunity planning, special programs, and planning and administration. Staff offices are located in Austin.
Coordination of higher education in Texas is an outgrowth of a study made by the Texas Legislative Council in 1950. The report of the council led to the establishment of a temporary Texas Commission on Higher Education in 1953 to recommend steps for achieving a coordinated system of higher education. That commission urged the founding of a central agency to strengthen the state system of higher education through coordination and leadership of senior colleges and universities. The permanent Texas Commission on Higher Education was authorized in 1955 and given limited statutory authority, primarily in the area of developing formulas for funding public colleges and universities, program approval, and authority to review requests for establishing new wholly state-funded institutions. Establishment of a coordinating board was recommended after a yearlong study by a select Governor's Committee on Education Beyond the High School, which identified strengths and weaknesses of the Texas system of higher education and recommended solutions for meeting the state's growing educational needs. In urging a comprehensive reconstitution of the coordinating authority in higher education, the committee cited the commission's lack of authority to carry out plans and programs and to sustain budget recommendations. Establishment of the coordinating board was a high priority of Governor John Connally.
In 1989 publications of the board included a newsletter, CB Report; the Annual Report and Statistical Supplement; the Long-Range Plan For Texas Higher Education; and other reports and special studies on selected topics. Nine policy papers on development of the Texas higher education system were adopted by the board during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and by 1985 at the direction of Governor William Clements, the board had published a series of thirty study papers. In 1989 it issued "Texas Education Opportunity Plan for Public Higher Education, 1989–1994" a continuation of an earlier, court-ordered desegregation plan. Under its 1989 Texas Sunset Advisory Commission review, the board was continued with few changes, but will continue to be reviewed every twelve years.